Certain things you do in your expat life don’t seem so strange at all until you stop and realize what you’re doing. And then it hits you: What a crazy life! What am I doing? For your entertainment, here’s one such mad moment I experienced while living abroad.
The Case of the Lost Skirt
Ghana, West Africa. The tropics. It is a steamy hot day (what else is new) and I am looking for my black wool skirt. I look through my closets. Not there. I look in the other closets in the other bedrooms. It’s not there. I look through the suitcase storing my winter clothes. It’s not there. I want my black wool skirt! I love my black wool skirt! Where is my black wool skirt? I stand in front of the window and try to think. To remember where I was when I wore it last. To wait and see if the universe will give me a clue.
Outside near the servants’ quarters I see baby Emilia sitting in a plastic tub, getting her daily bath, assisted by her cousin. It’s very hot, did I mention that? Staring at the little scene gives me no secret clues. The universe doesn’t care about my black wool skirt, whether I live abroad or not. It has more important issues to deal with. (War, pestilence and the heartbreak of psoriasis.)
What is wrong with me, you ask?
Let me explain about my black wool skirt, BWS for short. It works for me like a good pair of jeans. I can wear it anywhere– dress it up, dress it down. You know what I mean. I cannot live without it. If I have no BWS, I have no clothes, nothing to wear. It’s the perfect traveling skirt because it does not wrinkle. It is the perfect traveling skirt for winter travel that is, for wearing in cold weather. There is no cold weather in Ghana. So what am doing looking for my BWS?
I want it, of course, because I am packing for a trip to colder climes. It is December and I’m going to Holland and the USA to visit family, friends and the mammogram machine. (The latter encounter a yearly joy.)
Maybe, by mistake, I left my BWS at my mother’s house in Holland last March. So I call her. “Heb ik mijn zwarte rok bij jou laten liggen?” I ask. She says she’ll look, comes back to the phone and tells me, no, my black skirt is not in the guest room anywhere.
I call my daughter in Virginia, USA, where it’s early morning and snow is falling. “Did I leave my black wool skirt hanging in the closet?” I ask. She says she’ll look, comes back to the phone and tells me, no, my black skirt is not in the closet in the guest room.
This is not good news!
What am I going to do without my BWS when I visit the arctic climes up north? I have nothing to wear if I don’t have my skirt to dress up or dress down (other than jeans but I don’t look good in jeans). I‘ll have nothing to wear to go to a restaurant, or to Christmas dinner, or a party. Quelle catastrophe!
In despair I go through my tropical closets again. Last is the guest bedroom. The air conditioning is not on because the room is not in use. It is a sauna in there. I search and search, sweat pouring down my face and back, but my BWS is not to be found here in Ghana. It has to be in Holland, or the US. It has to be!
I turn to leave the room, catch my reflection in the mirror. I look like a mad person, my hair standing out in peaks, my face red and sweaty, my eyes wild.
And then it hits me: I’m missing a skirt, and I’m searching for it on three continents. Three continents. How bloody idiotic is that?
They say expat life will change you. It can drive you crazy. Clearly, here’s proof.
Okay, yes, my skirt and I were re-united. My daughter e-mailed me some time later to tell me she found it after all. She’d hung up some ghastly purple maid-of-honor creation in the guest room closet (for storage and never to be worn again), and my skirt had been shoved to the deep dark back, unseen and rendered invisible.
Years later now, I still have this skirt. We will grow old together. Dressed up and dressed down.
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Are you willing to confess your mad moments? Go ahead, make my day and hit that comment button at the top of the post!